Saturday, May 30, 2020

Law and Disorder: in the racial injustice system, the police commit crimes and then . . . they get away with it. Bump-bump

By Scott V. Sandford
Spy Justice Correspondent

Over 100,000 dead from pandemic with no end in sight.  Over 1,500,000 afflicted and 40 million employed.  A useless and dysfunctional federal response led by a corrupt drug-addled clown imperiling the nation.

Could things get any worse?  Yes!

Live from Minneapolis, it's the latest video in the 400-year effort to subjugate minorities through illegal violence.  After days of dithering (if you were caught on tape killing someone, how long would you be lounging around before getting arrested?), the clueless Hennepin County DA finally charged one of the four officers who murdered George Floyd.  The other three are still living [Surely at? – Ed.] large, whilst important legal memos are being written on subjects like if you're also sitting on the victim whilst he's being asphyxiated by a brother in blue, did you commit a crime?  Hint: yes.

File under: Respect for law and order
The response of the minority community and their few allies has been as expected:  they're mad as f*** and they're not going to take it anymore.

But let's focus not on their understandable anger and frustration but on the virulent pandemic of incomprehensible police misconduct that has raged out of control for decades even though both the vaccine and the treatment have been known and readily available.

George Floyd was of course not the first black man murdered by police for an alleged nonviolent offense.  Set the Waybac to 2014 and recall the death of Eric Garner, killed by the New York Police Department for the “crime” of selling loose cigarettes.

What happened to the gang of thugs in blue who did him in?  Did the law enforcement authorities take effective steps to punish the guilty and thereby reassure all citizens that their rights and lives were protected?

If you're asking this question, you're white!

The NYPD sure learned its lesson from
the murder of Eric Garner
So for all you wypipo out there, here's what happened, according to The New York Times:

Many police departments, including the one in Minneapolis, stopped teaching the knee restraint technique and also sought to limit the use of chokeholds after the highly publicized death of Eric Garner in 2014 at the hands of the New York Police Department.

Mr. Garner famously gasped “I can’t breathe” 11 times while lying facedown on the sidewalk, a sentence that Mr. Floyd also said several times. In the case of Mr. Garner, investigators determined that the officer who wrestled him to the ground was using a banned chokehold.

The medical examiner ruled Mr. Garner’s death a homicide caused by the compression of his neck from a “chokehold” and the compression of his chest held on the ground in a prone position. 

Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who held Mr. Garner in a chokehold, was fired but not charged, inciting protests nationwide. 

And this wasn't in some s**thole redneck town in Texas or Alabama, this was in New York City.  Wtf happened?
Officer Pantaleo had held on to his job as the Staten Island district attorney and the Justice Department declined to charge him with a crime in the face of calls by the Garner family and their supporters that the city punish him and other officers involved. 

Then, a mere five years after his victim breathed his last on a Staten Island sidewalk,  the New York Police Department succeeded in firing the perp:

The New York City police officer whose chokehold led to Eric Garner’s death in 2014 was fired from the Police Department and stripped of his pension benefits on Monday,ending a bitter battle that had cast a shadow over the nation’s largest police force. 

Commissioner James P. O’Neill’s decision to dismiss the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, came five years after Mr. Garner’s dying words — “I can’t breathe” — helped to galvanize the Black Lives Matter protests that led to changes in policing practices in New York and around the country.

You mean . . . they lied?

Five years?  Not to mention the endless round of hearings and “due process” the thug in blue was granted, even as he denied due process, and oxygen, to Eric Garner.  When you f*** up at work, does it take five years to fire you?  Spot the difference!

Oh, and the officers of the NYPD, committed as they are to upholding law and order responded how to Pantaleo's losing his job after five years of collecting his pay and benefits after killing a defenseless citizen?  

On Monday, union leaders loudly accused the mayor and police commissioner of undercutting their ability to enforce laws in an effort to appease “anti-police extremists” and urged officers to call in their supervisors before making an arrest.  

The ridiculous efforts by the NYC Patrolman's Benevolent Association to incite anger, fear, and misconduct among its members should not have been news to anyone awake for the last 50 years or so.  This Times story from August 3, 1964 is but one example:

Note that the inability to capture the killing of the 15-year-old boy on cellphone allowed the police to escape punishment, as was the case from about 1619 to 2010.

Which is probably why the same New York Times, in the August 2, 1964 News of the Week in Review offered this hot take on police brutality and its relationship to angry protest:

Which observers?  Let's just take a wild guess and go with white ones.

And of course 60 years of politicians, mostly but not exclusively Republicans, pandered to white middle-class bigotry by frustrating any effort to address effectively police violence against minorities and anyone else they don't like.

The role of the New York PBA is hardly an anomaly.  The Minneapolis PD, headed by a black chief who reports to a perfectly reasonable mayor, has been repeatedly frustrated in its efforts to control brutal white cops:

[Former Minneapolis Police Chief Jamee] Harteau said that while unions are necessary to push for benefits, the police union in Minneapolis fought her on things such as imposing discipline and terminating officers.

“It really deflates your authority,” Harteau said. “And you can’t have the responsibility unless you have full authority.”

Critics said the issue was one of the city’s own making. City and police officials “constantly bemoan what they can’t do because their hands are tied by the [police union] contract,” said Dave Bicking, vice president of Communities United Against Police Brutality, a Twin Cities police watchdog group. “But every three years when the contract comes up, they rubber-stamp it.”

Funny,  the Associated Press noticed the same thing:

Some leaders, including former Mayor R.T. Rybak and state Sen. Jeff Hayden, have blamed the city’s police union in recent days for fostering a culture that protects brutal officers and resists efforts at reform. The union’s president, Lt. Bob Kroll, did not return a call seeking comment. 

At best, no one pays attention to the frustration of police efforts to reform their departments by union contracts and politicians sympathetic to the racist appeals of police unions.   At worst, that frustration is a feature, not a bug.

Now we'd be the last people to advocate against working people (including the 5-0) organizing to improve pay and working conditions.  But we haven't noticed unions in the private sector protecting violent criminals on the line at Ford or Boeing, and we don't understand why police unions should be permitted to behave any differently.

Actually, we understand why police violence, especially directed at minorities, has been allowed to flourish with impunity for centuries, when the corrupt bigot now acting as President advocates police lynching in response to property crimes.  We just don't understand why we should put up with police murdering black men suspected of committing petty crimes, throwing young unarmed protesters into the street, or shooting rubber bullets at reporters peacefully reporting any more.

Across America, a bunch of other people don't understand it either.  The others are still drinking the Clorox.

UPDATE May 31:

Friday, May 22, 2020

Fatal Distractions: Get the Poors to Work!

Editors' Note:  As a public service during these parlous times, the Spy's special coronavirus coverage is, unlike testing, available to all

By Vincent Boom-Batz, M.D., Medical Editor with
Samuel Insull, Spy Finance Editor

With 95,000 dead, over 40 million unemployed, and 1,500,000 cases reported in the United States, what's the most serious problem we face?  Well, if you're the Boston Globe, it kinda depends on which story you read.  Leading their home page at this hour is the following gem:

If that doesn't just take the cake.  Those lazy workers, enjoying huge unemployment benefits (until they run out in July that is) rather that accepting the minimum wage (or in the case of tipped workers like waiters, subminimum wages) for the labor that keeps business owners happy and profitable.  The absolute nerve.

Of course, if you choose to pay for The Wall Street Journal (no link; we don't), you can read the latest from former Reagan flack and 40-year Republican apologist Peggy Noonan, who claimed that the poors really want to get back to the slaughterhouses and nursing homes but are prevented from doing so by unnamed “elites.”  By elites she doesn't mean grifting New York real estate moguls and Wall Street financial finaglers – she means people who, unlike her, think before they write.

To be fair if you actually read carefully the Globe article under the headline you might learn what's really chapping these greedy workers living large on unemployment checks, notwithstanding all the self-serving crap from employers whining that $13 an hour doesn't buy workers the way it used to:

Sous chef Greg Breault would like to go back to Bucatino’s in Falmouth, but he’s a single father of a 4-year-old and has no child care. He’s hoping his 60-something mother, who has diabetes, will be able to take care of his son, but he worries about getting them sick.“I’m scared to death,” said Breault, 42, who is collecting about the same amount in unemployment that he makes on the job. “I don’t want my family to get exposed.”

So these workers are worried about not exposing themselves, their children, and their parents to a lethal virus that will have claimed 100,000 Americans by next week?  That's a little different from the picture of lazy idlers living large next to their welfare Cadillacs.

Could it be because their prospective employers are putting their own wallets and the whims of their customers ahead of worker safety?  It could!  We know that wearing masks and distancing are the two key steps to limiting the spread of the virus.  Are these employers willing to insist on no shoes, no shirt, no mask, no service? And htf will those customers eat while wearing masks?  Will workers be kept six feet apart in restaurant kitchens?  Inquiring readers (and workers) would like to know but somehow the Globe didn't think to ask these questions.

In fairness to the Globe, there's a fair amount of cognitive dissonance it generates, because on the same home page you can read another article about a different bunch of folks who apparently aren't cashing those sweet unemployment checks:

According to the Globe story,

In March, as the pandemic began to grind the economy to a halt, the Greater Boston Food Bank saw its highest monthly demand for food in its 40-year history and distributed more than 8.1 million pounds of food to pantries and other partners in Eastern Massachusetts. 

But in April, the demand grew even higher: The food bank distributed 9.5 million pounds of food. Such demand is playing out statewide, as the number of families and individuals served in March by the state’s food pantries was up 46 percent from a year earlier. 

Another sobering statistic: In Massachusetts, the rate of applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, has risen 360 percent since the pandemic began. And those numbers apply only to residents who are qualified. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates 8 percent of Massachusetts residents are noncitizens and therefore do not qualify for traditional safety net programs like SNAP.

So according to Cape Cod employers, workers are sitting around lighting their bongs with sawbucks, but in reality, in Boston and lower-income communities like Chelsea and Brockton, the poor and desperate are slowly starving.

The confusion that reigns on the Globe's home page is but a reflection of the national insanity caused by a corrupt and clueless administration desperate to force terrified workers back to their jobs without instituting the tracing and testing regimes and other protective measures that workers in an advanced economy have a right to expect.

How do we know this?  We read it in the Globe, yesterday!  Here's the Globe's formidable Yvonne Abraham explaining it to even the meanest intelligence:

There’s a tale being spun by some [she means Peggy Noonan, btw – Ed.] that those who want us to go slower on reopening are elite work-from-home types who don’t understand the plight of the good working folks who desperately need to put food on the table. Leaving aside the absolute failure of a society where the only choices are risk a deadly disease or go without, polls give the lie to this effete-liberal-vs-noble-working-man framing: A large majority of Americans surveyed, including most of those who have been stood down, believe we should keep businesses closed to stop the spread of the virus.  Now those same workers are being called back to their jobs, and they’re rightly afraid.

Wouldn't you, when protection from a lethal illness depends on the kindness of your employer, rather than rigorous regulation and inspection, backed by 100% testing-and-tracing, as practiced in South Korea?   In Massachusetts, the perhaps too-trusting Ms. Abraham is willing to give Gov. Charlie Baker the benefit of the doubt:

There is plenty of good in the reopening plan Governor Charlie Baker laid out Monday (though he is calling for hair salons to reopen too soon, on which more later). It’s gradual, has built-in brakes, and lays out requirements for keeping workers and customers safe. Among other things, it requires masks and coverings for most employees, and strict cleaning practices, though labor advocates say there aren’t enough protections. Employers will have to attest that they meet the standards before they can reopen. Violators will be given small fines, and if they don’t shape up, they’ll eventually be shut down.

“There’s no real enforcement,” said Jodi Sugerman-Brozan, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health. “It passes the buck ... without any additional resources to ensure compliance.”

And that's Massachusetts.  What do you think will be done in Republican states to protect exploited workers in hotbeds of virus contagion like slaughterhouses?  Come in, Iowa!

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Safety regulators declined to inspect an Iowa pork plant after receiving a complaint alleging workers were exposed to the coronavirus in crowded conditions — a decision that critics said allowed a burgeoning outbreak to grow unabated.

An April 11 complaint to the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleged that employees at the Tyson Foods processing plant in Perry, Iowa, were spreading the virus as they worked “elbow to elbow.” The complaint asserted that social distancing wasn’t taking place in any of the production areas or the cafeteria.

Workers and regulators had reason to be alarmed. The Tyson plant in Columbus Junction had been idled days earlier due to a coronavirus outbreak that infected hundreds of workers and was rerouting some of its hogs to Perry for slaughter. Other meat plants nationwide were reporting outbreaks and closures.

But Iowa OSHA took nine days to seek a response from Tyson, and eight more to get one, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press under the open records law. The agency determined April 28 that Tyson’s voluntary efforts were “satisfactory” and closed the case without inspecting the plant.

In fairness to Tyson, it's got a business to run, and its owner, named, surprisingly enough, John Tyson is down to his last $2,000,000,000.  No wonder he can't afford to fritter away his stash on keeping his workers alive and well.

Pre-pandemic Tyson plant.  We're sure
it's totally different now!

So maybe the problem is isn't lazy workers cashing unemployment checks.  Maybe the problem is really plutocrats and billionaires unwilling to invest in worker protection or to insist on a competent federal response.  Once again, Ms. Abraham, tell us who's not bearing the burden of this shambolic reopening plan:

It’s not the president, who has shown himself willing to sacrifice American lives on the altar of his reelection campaign. It’s not the cynical operators — the conservative powerhouses that brought us the fake-spontaneous Tea Party protests, the freelance Trump cultists and worse — ginning up anti-lockdown demonstrations around the country. It’s not Republicans in Congress, who have prioritized corporations over employees at every turn since this crisis began. Nor is it the corporate bigs and Wall Streeters who can safely isolate while they bay about the sputtering economy.

Speaking of billionaire Republicans, the Globe recently breathlessly lauded the kindness of the paper's second-favorite tycoon, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is auctioning off a Super Bowl ring and will donate the proceeds to charities that feed the hungry.  Right now, the bidding is over $1 million.

Also right now, Washington Republicans are stalling a vitally needed $3,000,000,000,000 relief bill so that state and local governments and other employers, including the Post Office, don't have to make massive cuts that would lead to millions more unemployed and left without the wherewithal to buy, or the machinery to access, stuff like . . . food.

So far the many-ringed Robert Kraft hasn't called up his friend, President Tiny Toadstool, and told him to get this law passed, but a million a day here and a million a day there and pretty soon you've raised the needed funds from charitable plutocrats like the Bobster, if by “pretty soon;” you mean 3 million days, or a mere 8,219 years.  So if you're waiting for Republicans to demand effective action to relieve the crushing pain their President has caused, don't hold your breath.  

But do wear a mask.

UPDATE, May 26: “Over the past month, the number of infections tied to three of the country’s biggest meat processors — Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and JBS — has gone from just over 3,000 to more than 11,000, according to the Post analysis.”  – The Washington Post, May 26, 2020.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

From the Archives, 1978: Insane dictator killing his own people

Page One, November 19, 1978:



Citizens Pay With their Lives for Listening to 'Fake News'


Madman Rejects Science, Medicine, All Forms of Education

By Benjamin L. Willard
Spy Southeast Asia Bureau

BANGKOK, Thailand – Reliable reports from refugees and foreign observers point to a frightening picture of an entire nation in the grip of an insane narcissist who has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his own citizens in an effort to remake society with what he calls “real Cambodians.”

Cambodians are told they must work or starve
Thousands of refugees are fleeing illness, famine, and death caused by autocratic mad man Pol Pot, whose hatred of and contempt for intellectuals and other so-called “elites” has led him to pursue what is nothing more than a campaign of extermination directed at these unfortunate souls.

One former teacher told The New York Times: “The ignorant have become an honorable and inviolable class. Ignorance is good for the country, they believe.” The effort to drive out the educated class has also led to the collapse of the economy, exacerbating the plight of millions of starving and unemployed Cambodians.

The campaign is aided by Pol Pot's banning of all forms of education and independent media.  One former district leader told The New York Times: “We grow ignorance.  No schools, no books, no newspapers, no radio, no television.”

The experience of one young woman, who was driven out of Phnom Penh with her parents and told if she did not work in a slave labor camp she would be ineligible for any food or other income assistance is typical.  She said that camp inmates were forced to labor from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. and given little to eat.  The only medical treatment available was from Khmer Rouge medics, who had no medical training and were chosen solely for their support of the Pol Pot regime.  She said the sick were given herbs, roots, and tree bark, some of which contained hydroxychloroquine, which can be toxic.

As a result, she told The New York Times, “the sick person stays in his hut and waits for death.”

She also said that access to outside information is strictly controlled by the regime, which terms any criticism as fake news.  The only news they get comes in the form of lengthy indoctrination lectures from regime cadres under the control of a shadowy leader known only as the “Fox”, whose “friends” subject the camp inmates to lengthy lectures blaming the country's woes on “globalists” and “subversive immigrants.”

Whether one lives or dies depends on the strength of the individual's ties to the new regime.  Those who express undying loyalty to the new regime are given better food and clothes and easier work assignments.  The more educated and those who express skepticism about the supposed “tremendous” accomplishments of Pol Pot and his regime are executed or worked to death.

In interviews with foreign diplomats, Pol Pot has said that “only a minority” of Cambodians have died, and that it is a “small price to pay” for the restructuring of his country.  He predicted that “it would all be over when the weather gets warmer.”

Pol Pot's reliance on unqualified 
loyalists has led to disaster
However, some sympathetic Western observers doubt the stories being recounted by refugees.  They point out that no regime could survive long by condemning its own people to sickness and death after destroying a once-rich economy.  They also claim that the stories have been fabricated by Vietnam, which opposes the Pol Pot regime, in an effort to discredit the Cambodian Government, an effort they call “Vietnamgate.”

The suffering of the Cambodian people has gone almost unnoticed in the United States.  Few even appear to know where the country is, although it was invaded by the United States just eight years ago.

Said one sniffling Manhattan clubgoer bounding out of a limo outside of Studio 54 who gave his name only as “the Donald:” “Pol Pot?  F*** that,  Coke and meth, that's all we need in this country.”

[Material from the The New York Times News Service was used in this article.  All Times quotes were published Nov. 19, 1978]

Sunday, May 10, 2020

From the Archives: Can Hoover Normalize Mass Unemployment?

Page One, May 9, 1932:

Hoover Claims Job Losses Normal
And Next Year Will Be 'Tremendous'


Predicts 'Transition to Greatness'

Warns against Socialist Solutions 

By David Bloviator
Political Editor
with William Manchester, Researcher

WASHINGTON, D.C. –With close to one in four Americans jobless and destitute, President Herbert Hoover's re-election campaign team is crafting a message emphasizing that such unemployment levels are “to be expected in the early stages of an economic recovery” and that 1933 will be a “tremendous” year for the U.S. economy if he is re-elected.

He plans to stress that the future of the economy depends on his re-election because “only I  can save you.”  He will also criticize the likely Democratic nominee, New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, as an “out-of-touch coastal elitist” who offers “Socialist tyranny.”

Yet privately Hoover's campaign advisers admit that his campaign faces challenges after three years of Depression, and the unrelenting gloomy headlines of factories closing and men thrown out of work.

The Administration claims that the current crisis is in fact laying the basis for a great economic recovery.  But in doing so, the administration is effectively bowing to — and asking Americans to accept — a devastating proposition: that a steady, daily accumulation of unemployment and poverty is the grim cost of economic revival.  Inside the West Wing, some officials talk about the federal government’s economic recovery mission as largely accomplished because they believe the nation’s factories are now equipped to meet anticipated demand.

However sources close to the campaign remain concerned about how successful they will be in distracting the electorate from the grim economic toll:  12 million unemployed, 34 million without any income, before taking into account the 11 million farm families enduring an unprecedented collapse in commodity prices.

On Friday, as the unemployment rate reached a historically high 23.6 percent, Hoover urged Americans to think of this period as a “transition to greatness,” adding during a meeting with Republican members of Congress: “We’re going to do something very fast, and we’re going to have a phenomenal year next year.”

President Herbert Hoover called reports of
mass homelessness and poverty . . .
But Hoover’s outward projections of assurance and hope masked the more sober acknowledgments of some outside advisers and experts who worry the number of unemployed  will either stabilize around 12,000,000 or continue to climb over the next month.  “The question is, will people become anesthetized to it? Are they willing to accept that?” said one adviser to the White House recovery task force who, like many others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters or offer candid assessments.

Hoover is also offering a version of events that some critics say may not be fully reflective of facts on the ground.  At a recent news conference, President Hoover told reporters that “nobody is actually starving.  The hoboes are better fed than they ever have been.  One hobo in New York got ten meals a day.”

He dismissed widespread newspaper reports of famine, want, and homelessness as “fake news.” and said that reporters should be “ashamed” of printing those reports.

Hoover's campaign officials stress that if the election is a referendum on the last four years, the President is in trouble.  However, they intend to make the election a choice between the President's stable genius leadership and what they see as the “feckless Socialism” of Gov. Roosevelt.

They will attack Gov. Roosevelt for putting traditional American liberties in peril by introducing a minimum wage and limits on hours worked in New York State, which Hoover's experts believe will only make the Depression worse by limiting the freedom of job-creators to hire and fire freely.  Hoover believes that the Governor's program of offering “make-work” public-sector jobs will prove to be a political loser.

. . . Fake News
The Hoover re-election team will exploit divisions in the Democratic Party by appealing to former Smith supporters who see Roosevelt as a dangerous radical and depressing turnout among progressives by repeating the left-wing critique of Roosevelt  as (according to The Nation) a “Hoover by another name.”

Some Hoover campaign advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters or offer candid assessments, implied that Gov. Roosevelt had a number of weaknesses that could be exploited by the Hoover campaign.

“We will ask the real American people who don't live in hotbeds of elitism like New York whether they want to give the Presidency to a not very bright cripple who is dominated by sinister globalists like Henry Morgenthau,” said one Hoover aide.

Some of Hoover's more extreme business associates, such as New York slumlord Fred Trumpf, have urged the President to appeal to white racists by noting that Roosevelt's social welfare programs would necessarily involve giving government money and jobs to Negroes.  But other more mainstream Republican sources urge Hoover not to go down that path, telling him that an increasingly destitute white electorate would never buy such obvious twaddle. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

You read it first in the Spy, Never U Bummers edition

But “Never Trumpers” are increasingly involved in the Democratic Party and have gradually shifted their tactics in that direction — effectively becoming a “Never Trump” and “Never Bernie Sanders” coalition. And they appear to be having more success shaping their new party than the one that many of them had been associated with for much of their lives. Here’s how that shift has happened. . . .

Many prominent “Never Trumpers,” [Proferssor Robert] Saldin said, operate and make a living in liberal institutions. “They think of their jobs as translating conservative ideas to liberals. They had invested in the idea that conservatism was respectable,” he said. In particular, Saldin said, these figures had worked hard to suggest that racism was not a major feature of conservatism. [Ha! – Ed.]
His boys are back . . . as Democrats!
“So they were particularly horrified by Trump because he embodied what they had spent their careers saying was not conservatism,” he added. . . .

The core argument of “Never Trump” Republicans goes something like this:
  1. Trump is a much worse person and leader than other recent GOP presidents (the Bushes) or presidential nominees (McCain, Romney).
  2. Democrats and Republicans who disagree on issues such as abortion and tax policy should put aside those differences for now and unite in opposing Trump because he is a threat to fundamental American values like the rule of law.
  3. And finally, there is a sizable bloc of Republicans who will join with Democrats to challenge Trump — so long as Democrats don’t move too far ideologically to the left.
This argument may not be totally true. And the “Never Trump” narrative is clearly self-serving — of course a group of conservatives who feel like they don’t fit in the current Republican Party prefer a more conservative Democratic Party that they can align with. . . .

 The “Never Trumpers” argument — that Sanders couldn’t win the general election, in part because anti-Trump Republicans (like themselves) wouldn’t vote for him– was compelling, particularly for a Democratic Party obsessed with beating Trump. And the “Never Trumpers” were already in the ideal positions to make these arguments and reach Democratic Party elites and primary voters — the web pages of The Atlantic, The New York Times and The Washington Post and on MSNBC. [Former Bush hack Tim] Miller, in an anti-Trump publication called The Bulwark, described how he and other Republicans had failed to mobilize effectively against Trump in the 2016 GOP primary and laid out a step-by-step guide for how Democrats could avoid the same fate. . . .

So “Never Trump” conservatives can probably make some demands of Biden, just like any other constituency in the party, and he might feel some need to court them.

And that seems to be happening. The former vice president hinted recently that he might name some Republicans to his cabinet or transition team. . . .

“I don’t know that Biden needs a message for ‘Never Trumpers’ — most ‘Never Trumpers’ are going to vote for Biden,” Miller said. But, he added, “I do think eventually the campaign should have a message for them.”

Mostly, “Never Trumpers” simply want Biden to run a general election campaign similar to his primary run, emphasizing more moderate policies and appealing to more centrist voters.
“I don’t want him to make crazy sacrifices to the left that he doesn’t need to make,” Miller said.

Perhaps it's not just sheer perversity that animates those who have correctly seen that the obvious truth that the Republican Party was and is nothing more than a collection of white racists, plutocrats and warmongers.  Perhaps it's the fear that, unlike those few who have made some effort to recognize their past misdeeds, the much greater number of Republicans who have not (what are your Contra buddies up to these days, Ana?) are peddling a new dog's breakfast of whoppers.

As far as we can tell, Max [Boot] is alone among the Republican Never U Bummers in seeing the line that connects 60 years of racist Republican politics to its current master practitioner, President Tiny Toadstool.  The remainder don't, or won't.

That make us fear that what the Billys and Daveys and Steves and Joeys are angling for is a place at the political trough once we are rid of the Tangerine-Faced Grifter, assuming we live that long. 
We fear that they will return to claim what they see as their rightful place in national politics based on the falsehood that Trumpanismo was an aberration from, rather than the culmination of, Republican policies.

They'll be back, trying out new lies to embroil us in new wars, like David “Axis of Evil” Frum, protect plutocracy and screw the poor, like Joe “I Ended Welfare!” Scarborough, avoid tackling climate change in the name of “deregulation,” and deny women access to safe abortions, like Nicolle Wallace, who once accused John Kerry of being insufficiently devoted to “fetal life.”

 . . . .

We can't let Republicans insinuate their shabby discredited policies back into the mainstream under the guise of some non-existent “third way.”  If they want a center-right party, we already have one: the Democrats.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Let's get 435 idlers back to work!

By Thomas Corcoran
Congressional Correspondent
with additional reporting from Hacky Carp in Old Sludgebury, Mass.

Despite the ravages of the current coronavirus pandemic, and the utter ineptitude of the U Bum Administration in responding to and protecting us from its relentless depredations, every day millions of Americans go to work to keep us alive.

Every day millions of health care workers from eminent department heads to janitors brave the virus to deliver critical care to the afflicted.  Every day police, EMT, and firefighters respond to emergencies that may threaten their own lives (except in Rancho Redneck, California, where the police are otherwise engaged in beating the crap out of black 14-year-olds suspected of . . . possession of cigarettes).

Every day Colin and Naomi and thousands more put on the aprons and stick their cash drawers in their registers at the Star Market down the street so that yours truly can have uninterrupted access to the necessities of life, although they do need to restock the Hostess Twinkies, hint, hint.

Why won't Nancy Pelosi get Congress back to work?
But there's one group of supposedly essential workers who don't feel any need to show up at work to do their jobs.  They call themselves the “House of Representatives.”  They're not in session and there's no reasonable expectation that they will be anytime soon.

Any reason why they, unlike the shelvers at the Star keeping us well-supplied with all nineteen varieties of Doritos, are slacking off?  Let's ask them:

Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader, told reporters Tuesday morning that after consulting with Congress’s attending physician and studying Covid-19 numbers in Washington and nearby suburban counties of Maryland and Virginia, the leaders no longer felt comfortable summoning lawmakers back to the Capitol. He said they hoped to return once they were ready to consider another pandemic relief package in the coming weeks.

By the way, just like the Star Market in Boston, the supermarkets, drug stores and Costcos in the Washington, D.C. area remain open for business, despite the risks that proved too terrifying for members of the House.

Nor, sad to say, is this the usual standoff between reactionary Republicans and timorous Democrats (well, it is but we'll get to that later).  Even the progressive stalwarts are campaigning hard to . . . stay home:

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which counts nearly 100 House Democrats as members, had been preparing to send a letter on Tuesday opposing the decision and urging leaders not to reconvene until remote voting and hearing capabilities were in place. 

We'll get to the remote voting stuff shortly, but first let's consider what's at stake here, starting with 65,000 dead, over 1 million infected, and 36 million unemployed, a number not seen since the Great Depression (which may have to be renamed if this keeps up).

Then let's remember that we have an utterly dysfunctional, corrupt, authoritarian Executive headed by a corrupt incompetent drug-addled bigot.  That's not good either.

Add to that the imminent specter of millions of more jobless and destitute due to the collapse in funding for state and local governments and institutions like the Postal Service, and you've got a situation that calls for immediate Congressional action.  They know that:

Democrats were still drawing up their proposals on Tuesday, and leaders have said it will most likely include a significant increase in funding for state, local and tribal governments, as well as additional resources for the Postal Service, food assistance programs and election funding.

Now none of this can wait, and unless the House is in session either live or remotely none of this can be passed without unanimous consent, which we predict is not readily attainable in a body whose membership includes 187 or so, depending on who was sentenced this week, Republican assholes.  Thus all prior emergency funding bills have required House members to traipse back to Washington to vote.  So far they have survived the ordeal.

In the meantime, Mitch McConnell, apparently bored by endless rounds of lovemaking with his lovely wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, has called the Senate back into session to ram a few more reactionary judges through before he loses his rock-hard but tiny majority.  He's already told Dems he's not going to fork over another dime without another sweaty battle.

If the Democratic House were in session they could call Moscow Mitch's bluff and pass a bill preventing the layoffs of millions of state, local, and postal workers.  They could then return home and let Mitch squirm.  That would be what Republicans do to Democrats, but it would require real voting.

Now if the Democrats are really so fearful that they cannot return to Washington to do the jobs they were elected and are paid to do, there is an alternative: remote voting.  If we trust the Internet tubes with billions of dollars of transactions every day, can't it get 435 votes tallied accurately?

Of course, the Democrats can't get their act together on this one either:

The delay will also give House leaders more time to try to reach a bipartisan agreement on rules changes that would allow remote voting and hearings for the first time in history. Democratic leaders were hoping to build Republican support for their plan to permit lawmakers who could not or did not want to travel to Washington during the pandemic to designate another member to vote by proxy in their stead, and a bipartisan task force working on the issue met again on Tuesday. 

Bipartisan agreement?  With Louie Gohmert and Gym Jordan?  You've got to be f***in' kidding me.  In fact, the Democrats could have passed whatever remote voting rules they wanted to the last time they voted but did not want to offend the tender sensibilities of their always polite and cooperative Republican colleagues.

Why not?

But he [Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer] also said any decision to adopt a remote voting policy should be bipartisan, and made in consultation with Republican leadership, a position he said he had shared with the Rules Committee. “We don’t want that to be perceived as trying to get some partisan gain by providing for that alternative,” Mr. Hoyer said, adding that he had been in touch with Mr. McCarthy. 

Yeah, that would be awful.  Maybe not as awful as reducing millions of laid-off state and local government employees to immiseration, but still pretty bad.

So if the House won't meet in person or authorize meeting and voting by Internet, it is basically not going to get anywhere with the legislation that the nation needs, not after the next meeting of the bipartisan task force or the appearance of a herd of rainbow unicorns, but right now.  They actually know this:

Many are wary of continuing with the current, ad hoc arrangement, in which their leaders and White House officials have privately negotiated and written trillion-dollar relief bills with little consultation, and presented them for a vote as take-it-or-leave-it propositions.

But as long as House Democrats refuse to do what the $14 an hour employees at the Star Market are willing to do – their jobs – they are going to be in the same position with respect to Mitch McConnell as Elaine Chao.  Except this time he's not faking it.